|Publication number||US5247395 A|
|Application number||US 07/881,435|
|Publication date||Sep 21, 1993|
|Filing date||May 11, 1992|
|Priority date||May 11, 1992|
|Publication number||07881435, 881435, US 5247395 A, US 5247395A, US-A-5247395, US5247395 A, US5247395A|
|Original Assignee||Eugene Martinez|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (10), Referenced by (81), Classifications (8), Legal Events (3)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This invention relates generally to structures for reflecting images. More specifically, this invention relates to mirror structures created with reflective thin film material.
While glass mirrors have been common for centuries, they are not always appropriate for certain locations or situations, such as in public washrooms, gyms, locker rooms, etc., where the opportunity for vandalism and accidents or the possibility of liability from injury due to broken glass is increased. In these locations, builders have searched for other materials to be able to provide the washroom patrons with the amenities of a mirror, without the accompanying risk.
Additionally, such mirrors have found usage in optical systems such as large television sets, but they suffer from the same problems (i.e., breakage during shipment, handling or even manufacture).
For many years, polished metal plates have been used in this situation but with only partial success. While the plates are much sturdier and less likely to cause injury, the quality of the mirror is significantly decreased. The plates can become warped or dented, distorting the image. They also tend to have poor reflective characteristics thereby making the mirror image darker and harder to see. Mounting and/or replacing the plates can also become time-consuming and costly, since the plates are usually mounted to a wall by semi-permanent fasteners.
In any of these situations, glass mirrors can also have. their own drawbacks. First, they are generally quite heavy and break easily. Because the glass must be relatively thick to avoid being easily broken, the mirror image can be degraded, as the thick glass absorbs or diffuses some of the light passing through. Additionally, with the reflective material at the back of the glass for protection purposes, a dual image can occur from a slight reflection off the front surface of the glass, which then becomes a second reflective surface.
Glass is often molded and is therefore easily susceptible to imperfections in its thickness and planar surfaces. This results is warped and distorted images, such as those in carnival mirrors, although to a lesser extent.
To overcome these deficiencies, glassless mirrors have been developed that use thin reflective films as the reflective surfaces. U.S. Pat. No. 3,880,500 discloses a mirror having a thin reflective film stretched over a rectangular frame. The thin film consists of a plastic sheet with a vacuum deposited reflective layer of metal on one surface. To protect the layer of metal, the sheet is usually mounted with the metal layer facing inwardly. The plastic sheet acts as the reflective surface. The plastic sheet is thin enough to eliminate any double images due to a second reflective surface and is considered a first surface mirror. Some advantages of this type of mirror are that it is lightweight, economical, somewhat durable, and will not pose a hazard if broken.
In the mirror shown in U.S. Pat. No. 3,880,500, there are two films on opposite faces of the frame, secured to the frame edges through the use of contact cement or other adhesive. These two films and the frame enclose an inner volume of air that is in constant contact with the metal surface of the film. One drawback of this configuration is that the exposure to air and its constituents will likely lead to corrosion of the metal layer. If the layers are reversed, with the metal layer facing out of the mirror, it will be exposed not only to the air and its components, but to physical damage caused by incidental contact.
It is thus an object of the invention to provide a thin film mirror that is protected from the ambient atmosphere and incidental contact.
It is a further object of the invention to provide a mirror with simplified means for attaching the thin film to a mirror frame.
In accordance with the above-mentioned and other objects, a thin plastic sheet is provided with a reflective material on one surface. Sandwiching the reflective layer is an environmental protective coating of plastic resin. In the preferred embodiment, this protective coating also functions as an adhesive for face bonding the film to a mirror frame. In an alternate embodiment, the protective coating is positioned at the reflective surface and an additional adhesive is preferred. This film construction provides a first surface mirror without the disadvantages of prior mirrors. A method of making a mirror also disclosed.
These and other objects, advantages, embodiments will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon reading the detailed description of the preferred embodiments in conjunction with a review of the appended drawings, in which:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a mirror constructed according to the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view thereof taken along line 2--2 of FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 is a detail cross-sectional view of a mirror according to the preferred embodiment; and
FIG. 4 is a detail cross-sectional view of a mirror according to an alternate embodiment.
Referring to the drawings, there is shown in FIG. 1 a lightweight thin film mirror 10 constructed according to the present invention. A frame 12 is provided and is preferably polygonal having any number of sides. For example, the mirror 10 may have a rectangular configuration as shown. Alternately it may be triangular, octagonal, circular, or any other geometric shape. The frame 12 is comprised of molded, stamped or formed members 14 having a raised film support surface 16 along its entire periphery. The inner area 18 surrounded by the raised support surface 16 is recessed from the level of the support surface 16 so as to not interfere with the mirror film 20 when it is stretched across the frame 12.
The frame 12 can be formed as a one-piece item or formed from several pieces. It is important to maintain tight tolerance with respect to the co-planar nature of the entire support surface 16 so that the mirror film 20 will be planar when adhered to it. The frame 12 is preferably formed from aluminum or other metal members 14 along the periphery.
Referring now to FIG. 2, there is shown a cross-sectional view taken along the lines 2--2 of FIG. 1. A sheet of thin metallized mirror film 20 is positioned on the raised support surface 16 of the frame 12, and stretched above and across the inner area 18. The base of the thin mirror film is preferably a plastic sheet 24, such as a polyimide or a polyester such as polyethylene terephthalate. To give the film reflective characteristics, the plastic sheet 24 has a vacuum deposited reflective layer 26 of aluminum, silver, chromium and the like on one surface.
In the preferred embodiment, this reflective layer 26 is oriented toward the inner area 18 of the frame 12, with an air gap 28 between the frame 12 and film 20. This pocket of air 28 is preferably vented to the surrounding atmosphere through vent holes 30. This ventilation is necessary to compensate for surrounding air pressure changes, which would distort the stretched thin mirror film 20 if the recess 18 was sealed. A by-product of this venting is the contact between the ambient air and its constituents and the mirror film, thereby inviting corrosion of the metal reflective surface.
To prevent any environmental damage to the reflective layer 26, on the surface of the reflective layer 26 opposite to the thin plastic sheet 24 there is provided a protective layer 32, preferably a coating of plastic resin. The resin coating 32 is preferably acrylic and can be applied in one or several coats, to achieve complete coverage of the metal reflective layer 26.
As shown in FIG. 3, with the protective coating 32 in contact with the frame support surface 16, it is preferred to stretch the thin mirror film 20, apply it to the support surface 16 and adhere the film 20 to the support surface 16 only with the application of heat. In this embodiment, the resin coating 32 also functions as a thermoplastic adhesive, obviating the need for any additional adhesives. Alternately, some thin film mirrors are known to have the thin plastic sheet 24 tensioned after adhering it to the frame 12 in order to achieve a stretched film. With the film 20 of the preferred embodiment, it is possible to heat the film 20 once and accomplish adhesion to the frame support surface 16 and tensioning of the film 20 simultaneously.
At the portions 34 of the mirror film 20 that are adhesively secured to the peripheral support surfaces 16 of the frame 12, the film 20 will generally not exhibit the mirror surface qualities exhibited by the central mirror surface portions. However, these portions 34 may either be covered with trim members, or alternately, they may be left exposed as shown.
Referring now to FIG. 4, an alternate embodiment of the invention is shown, in which the thin plastic sheet 24', is in contact with the frame support surface 16', rather than the protective coating 32'. In this embodiment, the metal reflective layer 26' is protected from environmental damage due to contact with atmosphere and incidental physical contact by the layer 32'. Because the protective coating 32' is at the outer reflective surface 36, it is important that the coating 32' not distort or cloud the reflective properties of the metal layer 26'. In the preferred embodiment of FIGS. 2 and 3, this is not critical.
In order to adhere the mirror film 20' to the frame 12' in the alternate embodiment, it is necessary to apply an additional adhesive 38 to the frame support surface 16' or the thin plastic sheet 24' before bonding can occur. This adhesive 38 can be any known type, such as pressure-sensitive cement, transfer tape, or other adhesives. In this alternate embodiment, it may be necessary to adhere the mirror film 20' to the frame 12' in a stretched condition, or perhaps tension the mirror film 20' after adhesion.
In the preferred embodiments, the thin plastic sheet has a thickness in the range of 0.0005 to 0.015 inch, although other thicknesses are possible.
Thus, the mirror film of the present invention is seen to protect the reflective metal layer, regardless of whether the metal layer faces inward or outward of the frame. Additionally, with the protective coating against the frame, it can be used for adhering the mirror film to the frame, without the need for extra adhesives or processing steps.
While the embodiments shown and described are fully capable of achieving the objects and advantages of the invention, it is to be understood that these embodiments are shown and described solely for the purpose of illustration and not for limitation.
|Cited Patent||Filing date||Publication date||Applicant||Title|
|US3687524 *||Jan 6, 1971||Aug 29, 1972||Kamor Products Inc||Glassless mirror|
|US3757479 *||Dec 27, 1971||Sep 11, 1973||Kamar Products Inc||Mirror|
|US3792917 *||Jul 12, 1972||Feb 19, 1974||Kamar Prod Inc||Mirror and stand assembly|
|US3877139 *||Aug 30, 1973||Apr 15, 1975||Kamar Products Inc||Glassless mirror|
|US3880500 *||Dec 28, 1973||Apr 29, 1975||American Velcro Inc||Mirrors having stretched reflective sheet materials|
|US3936159 *||Mar 15, 1974||Feb 3, 1976||New Age Mirror & Tile Industries||Heat shrunk plastic film mirror|
|US3973834 *||Mar 26, 1974||Aug 10, 1976||American Velcro, Inc.||Mirrors having stretched reflective sheet materials and method and apparatus for their production|
|US4483323 *||Nov 8, 1982||Nov 20, 1984||The United States Of America As Represented By The United States Department Of Energy||Tensioning device for a stretched membrane collector|
|US4666263 *||Jan 16, 1986||May 19, 1987||Deposition Technology, Inc.||Radiant energy reflector and method for construction thereof|
|US5014174 *||Feb 6, 1989||May 7, 1991||Joung H. Won||Reflection sheet for lighting or color-lighting|
|Citing Patent||Filing date||Publication date||Applicant||Title|
|US5476194 *||Apr 8, 1994||Dec 19, 1995||Hippely; Keith A.||Flexible liquid dispenser|
|US5714199 *||Jun 7, 1995||Feb 3, 1998||Libbey-Owens-Ford Co.||Method for applying a polymer powder onto a pre-heated glass substrate and the resulting article|
|US5793530 *||Aug 9, 1996||Aug 11, 1998||Mekra Lang Gmbh & Co. Kg||Vehicle external rear-view mirror assembly and method for manufacturing same|
|US5841595 *||Feb 23, 1996||Nov 24, 1998||Martinez, Sr.; Eugene Eustaquio||Thin film mirror frame|
|US5891295 *||Mar 11, 1997||Apr 6, 1999||International Business Machines Corporation||Fixture and method for carrying a flexible sheet under tension through manufacturing processes|
|US5930058 *||Jun 2, 1997||Jul 27, 1999||Mir-Tec Llc||Thin film mirror and method|
|US6003863 *||Mar 11, 1997||Dec 21, 1999||International Business Machines Corporation||Apparatus and method for conveying a flexible sheet through manufacturing processes|
|US6050692 *||Feb 19, 1997||Apr 18, 2000||Seos Displays Limited||Method of constructing a thin film mirror|
|US6065843 *||Jun 2, 1998||May 23, 2000||Martinez, Sr.; Eugene Eustaquio||Thin film mirror frame|
|US6088163 *||Nov 14, 1997||Jul 11, 2000||3M Innovative Properties Company||Metal-coated multilayer mirror|
|US6142640 *||Feb 27, 1997||Nov 7, 2000||Schofield; Douglas P.||Credit card pocket mirror and miniature billboard|
|US6203162||May 16, 1997||Mar 20, 2001||Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd.||Reflecting mirror and film and television receiver|
|US6247822 *||Jan 21, 2000||Jun 19, 2001||The Whitaker Corporation||Reflector apparatus|
|US6264341||Oct 26, 2000||Jul 24, 2001||Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd.||Reflecting mirror and film and television receiver|
|US6425672||Jun 29, 2001||Jul 30, 2002||Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd.||Reflecting mirror and film and television receiver|
|US6544369||Oct 26, 2000||Apr 8, 2003||Japan Tobacco Inc.||Process for producing thin film-like material having decorative surface|
|US6604832||May 22, 2001||Aug 12, 2003||Mir-Tec, Llc||Thin film mirror bond to plastic bead|
|US7824045||May 10, 2010||Nov 2, 2010||Donnelly Corporation||Exterior mirror element with wide angle portion|
|US7861856 *||Feb 27, 2007||Jan 4, 2011||Think Tek, Inc.||Disposable tissue package with reflective surface and reflective element for use with tissue packages|
|US7887204||Sep 29, 2010||Feb 15, 2011||Donnelly Corporation||Exterior mirror element with wide angle portion|
|US7934843||Aug 5, 2010||May 3, 2011||Donnelly Corporation||Exterior sideview mirror system|
|US7934844||Dec 17, 2010||May 3, 2011||Donnelly Corporation||Exterior mirror element with wide angle portion|
|US8006466 *||Dec 6, 2010||Aug 30, 2011||Rick Rowe||Disposable tissue package with reflective surface and reflective element for use with tissue packages|
|US8021005||Apr 29, 2011||Sep 20, 2011||Donnelly Corporation||Exterior mirror element with wide angle portion|
|US8061859||Jul 27, 2011||Nov 22, 2011||Donnelly Corporation||Exterior mirror element with wide angle portion|
|US8102279||May 13, 2011||Jan 24, 2012||Magna Mirrors Of America, Inc.||Exterior mirror with indicator|
|US8128243||Oct 25, 2010||Mar 6, 2012||Donnelly Corporation||Exterior sideview mirror system|
|US8128244||Mar 24, 2011||Mar 6, 2012||Donnelly Corporation||Exterior sideview mirror system|
|US8147077||Mar 24, 2011||Apr 3, 2012||Donnelly Corporation||Exterior sideview mirror system|
|US8220624 *||Dec 28, 2009||Jul 17, 2012||Kimberly-Clark Worldwide, Inc.||Facial tissue pack with mirror|
|US8242896||Nov 7, 2011||Aug 14, 2012||Donnelly Corporation||Vehicle exterior rearview mirror system with a highly viewable display indicator for the driver|
|US8267534||Dec 23, 2011||Sep 18, 2012||Donnelly Corporation||Exterior rearview mirror assembly|
|US8267535||Nov 7, 2011||Sep 18, 2012||Donnelly Corporation||Exterior mirror element with wide angle portion|
|US8305235||Jan 19, 2012||Nov 6, 2012||Magna Mirrors Of America, Inc.||Exterior mirror reflective element sub-assembly with signal indicator|
|US8459809||Sep 17, 2012||Jun 11, 2013||Donnelly Corporation||Exterior mirror element with auxiliary reflector portion|
|US8466779||Aug 10, 2012||Jun 18, 2013||Donnelly Corporation||Vehicle exterior rearview mirror system with a highly viewable display indicator for the driver|
|US8491137||Sep 17, 2009||Jul 23, 2013||Magna Mirrors Of America, Inc.||Vehicle mirror assembly with wide angle element|
|US8525697||Oct 25, 2012||Sep 3, 2013||Magna Mirrors Of America, Inc.||Exterior mirror reflective element sub-assembly with signal indicator|
|US8550642||Aug 21, 2012||Oct 8, 2013||Donnelly Corporation||Exterior rearview mirror assembly|
|US8562157||Feb 25, 2013||Oct 22, 2013||Donnelly Corporation||Extended field of view exterior mirror element for vehicle|
|US8591047||Feb 25, 2013||Nov 26, 2013||Donnelly Corporation||Exterior sideview mirror assembly|
|US8608326||Jun 3, 2013||Dec 17, 2013||Donnelly Corporation||Exterior mirror element with auxiliary reflector portion|
|US8736940||Sep 27, 2012||May 27, 2014||Magna Mirrors Of America, Inc.||Exterior mirror with integral spotter mirror and method of making same|
|US8777430||Dec 16, 2013||Jul 15, 2014||Donnelly Corporation||Exterior mirror element with auxiliary reflector portion|
|US8779937||Aug 30, 2013||Jul 15, 2014||Magna Mirrors Of America, Inc.||Exterior mirror reflective element sub-assembly|
|US8783882||Oct 15, 2013||Jul 22, 2014||Donnelly Corporation||Extended field of view exterior mirror element for vehicle|
|US8786704||Aug 7, 2008||Jul 22, 2014||Donnelly Corporation||Vehicle mirror assembly with wide angle element|
|US8794774||Jul 16, 2013||Aug 5, 2014||Donnelly Corporation||Vehicle mirror assembly with wide angle element|
|US8801245||Nov 12, 2012||Aug 12, 2014||Magna Mirrors Of America, Inc.||Illumination module for vehicle|
|US8899762||Jul 21, 2014||Dec 2, 2014||Donnelly Corporation||Vehicular exterior sideview mirror system with extended field of view|
|US8939589||Jun 30, 2014||Jan 27, 2015||Donnelly Corporation||Exterior mirror element with auxiliary reflector portion|
|US9013288||Jul 14, 2014||Apr 21, 2015||Magna Mirrors Of America, Inc.||Exterior mirror reflective element sub-assembly|
|US9035754||Jun 17, 2013||May 19, 2015||Donnelly Corporation||Vehicle exterior rearview mirror system having an indicator at a back plate of an exterior rearview mirror assembly|
|US9102279||Jan 26, 2015||Aug 11, 2015||Donnelly Corporation||Exterior mirror reflector sub-assembly with auxiliary reflector portion|
|US9162624||Apr 20, 2015||Oct 20, 2015||Magna Mirrors Of America, Inc.||Exterior mirror reflective element sub-assembly|
|US9216691||Feb 24, 2014||Dec 22, 2015||Magna Mirrors Of America, Inc.||Exterior mirror with spotter mirror|
|US9290970||Aug 11, 2014||Mar 22, 2016||Magna Mirrors Of America, Inc.||Door handle system for vehicle|
|US9302624||May 18, 2015||Apr 5, 2016||Donnelly Corporation||Vehicle exterior rearview mirror system having an indicator at a back plate of an exterior rearview mirror assembly|
|US9315155||Aug 10, 2015||Apr 19, 2016||Donnelly Corporation||Method of forming an exterior mirror reflector sub-assembly with auxiliary reflector portion|
|US9333909||Oct 19, 2015||May 10, 2016||Magna Mirrors Of America, Inc.||Exterior mirror reflective element sub-assembly|
|US9333917||May 20, 2014||May 10, 2016||Magna Mirrors Of America, Inc.||Exterior mirror with spotter mirror|
|US9340161||Dec 1, 2014||May 17, 2016||Donnelly Corporation||Extended field of view exterior mirror element for vehicle|
|US9469252||Feb 17, 2014||Oct 18, 2016||Donnelly Corporation||Rearview mirror assembly for vehicle|
|US9499102||Apr 18, 2016||Nov 22, 2016||Donnelly Corporation||Method of forming an exterior mirror reflector sub-assembly with auxiliary reflector portion|
|US9505350||May 9, 2016||Nov 29, 2016||Magna Mirrors Of America, Inc.||Exterior mirror reflective element sub-assembly|
|US9580017||Jul 21, 2014||Feb 28, 2017||Donnelly Corporation||Vehicle mirror assembly with wide angle element|
|US9616808||Mar 17, 2016||Apr 11, 2017||Magna Mirrors Of America, Inc.||Ground illumination system for vehicle|
|US9659498||Sep 28, 2016||May 23, 2017||Magna Mirrors Of America, Inc.||Exterior mirror assembly with blind zone indicator|
|US9694750||May 16, 2016||Jul 4, 2017||Donnelly Corporation||Extended field of view exterior mirror element for vehicle|
|US9701247||Nov 18, 2016||Jul 11, 2017||Donnelly Corporation||Method of forming an exterior mirror reflector sub-assembly with auxiliary reflector portion|
|US20030117731 *||Oct 24, 2002||Jun 26, 2003||Platzer George E||Compound automotive rearview mirror|
|US20050174645 *||Apr 22, 2003||Aug 11, 2005||Magna Donnelly Mirrors North America||Vehicle mirror having polymeric reflective film element and self-dimming element|
|US20070280673 *||May 24, 2007||Dec 6, 2007||Kazuo Mikami||Lens-interchangeable digital camera|
|US20080202952 *||Feb 27, 2007||Aug 28, 2008||Rick Rowe||Disposable tissue package with reflective surface and reflective element for use with tissue packages|
|US20100252461 *||Dec 28, 2009||Oct 7, 2010||Jeremy Thaddeus Gauger||Facial Tissue Pack with Mirror|
|US20110073248 *||Dec 6, 2010||Mar 31, 2011||Rick Rowe|
|US20150362639 *||Feb 27, 2014||Dec 17, 2015||Helmut Fischer GmbH Institut für Elektronik und Messtechnik||Optical mirror, x-ray fluorescence analysis device, and method for x-ray fluorescence analysis|
|EP0807833A2 *||May 16, 1997||Nov 19, 1997||Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd.||Reflecting mirror and film and television receiver|
|EP0807833A3 *||May 16, 1997||Jul 22, 1998||Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd.||Reflecting mirror and film and television receiver|
|WO1997001439A1 *||Jun 20, 1996||Jan 16, 1997||Minnesota Mining And Manufacturing Company||Metal-coated multilayer mirror|
|WO1997031277A1 *||Feb 19, 1997||Aug 28, 1997||Seos Displays Limited||A method of constructing a thin film mirror|
|U.S. Classification||359/883, 428/912.2, 156/309.6, 156/229, 156/308.2|
|Mar 11, 1997||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 4
|Mar 1, 2001||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 8
|Dec 29, 2004||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 12